On April 7th, I jumped the C-Train from the UofC to attend a lunch hour talk by Ezra Levant, active political blogger, lawyer and author, hosted by the Fraser Institute at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. After following this case for the last year or so, and writing about Ezra's Political Spadework in the Blogosphere in an editorial, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Ezra Levant in person for the first time.
Ezra Levant's book, entitled "Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights", published by the staid McClelland & Stewart last month, is currently riding high on the Globe and Mail's best seller's list, along with Amazon and Chapters' best seller's lists. I found Ezra to be a gifted and engaging speaker who has a great sense of humor (especially given what he has endured in the last few years since he published the infamous 12 Danish cartoons of Mohammed).
Ezra's ability to poke fun at the censorious and abusive commissions, which number 14 across the country, one in each province and then a federal commission, government bodies that silence and bully individual Canadians and Canadian business owners, is remarkable because there is nothing funny about my tax dollars being used in this way. Consider how Levant's rant against the $$200 million dollar Canadian "human rights" industry that is used to punish and censor free speech clearly resonates with the mainstream who flock to his speeches and buy his book. Ezra's jab at the Alberta Commissions' attempt to "drum up business" given that complaints have DROPPED 15%, was both hilarious and disturbing - I am offended that my tax dollars are being used to print and distribute "how to be a victim" education materials.
I am delighted to have met Ezra, and greatly appreciated his taking the time to sign my copy of his book. Although I do not wish this type of "human rights" procedural abuse on anyone, like Connie Ostermann and Nomi Whalen, who I had the chance to chat with after Ezra's talk, I am delighted that the Alberta Human Rights Commission chose to bully EZRA because he is a fighter, and he REFUSED to be BULLIED!!
Most of the victims of the Alberta and Canadian "Human Rights" Commissions are people who lack the resources, the ability and the time to fight back against provincially-supported censorship and bullying. On the other hand, thanks to Alberta taxpayers, the Alberta Government has a limitless coffer of resources and lawyers to defend the accusers who launch human rights complaints -- no matter how spurious or superficial the issue. Consider this: the AHRC threw over $500,000 of time and resources, up to 15 staffers on the public dime, to investigate the case against Levant for 900 days. Eventually, the Alberta "Human Rights" commission had to BACK DOWN, and dismiss the complaint. Given the online scrutiny and negative public relations created in the blogosphere and the media -- and, the fact that the Alberta commission DID NOT HAVE A CASE, Ezra was eventually acquitted -- but, was told "we will be watching you". Ezra exposed the virulent AHRC to the best kind of disinfectant - the sunshine of widespread public awareness that publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed was not hate speech, it was not illegal, and that in Canada, the police and the province do not, and SHOULD NOT, mediate religious disputes.
Ezra's courageous battle FOR Free Speech and FOR Freedom of Expression in Alberta and Canada is an example and model for us all. Ezra is engaged in a historic battle to defend ancient and unalienable Canadian Rights and Freedoms, and all Canadians should thank him. I am genuinely delighted that the spotlight is on Ezra and his battle (a recent talk in London, Ontario drew a crowd of 600) and that the debate about the abusive human rights commissions, and the many ludicrous cases they have convicted, has moved into the mainstream. I smile to think that Ezra's blog, originally written off by the snobbish and uninformed in the media as "right wing", is becoming the "new normal"!!
A few months back, I wrote in my editorial, "unless free speech and freedom of expression are better protected in the online and print media world, then whose voices will be heard, whose will be silenced, and who will decide?" Ezra's talk bolstered my resolve to speak out frequently and with more passion when anybody with a politically correct agenda attempts to silence free speech, or stifle reasonable debate about issues, or tries to force their own particular point of view at the expense of other Canadians' diverse and textured points of view across the spectrum of public and academic opinion.
Thank you, Ezra, for doing the University of Calgary & Alberta, the City of Calgary, the Province of Alberta, and this great Country Canada, Proud.